How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Heathrow to Cantebury, a two day stroll to Dover followed by a ferry to Calais and a train to Lourdes and more travel to Bayonne then St Jean pied port. Over the Pyrenees with several hundred eager pilgrims, sporting headlamps at dawn and forgoing all rest stops to race to find a bed and moving on if they were full.

This had become stresssssssful and not the sacred pilgrimage we had planned on so we saw that there were many accredited ways to arrive at Santiago; via Madrid, Portugal, Barcelona, and from the north-the Camino Ingles. Our research showed us this was the true way the British, Irish, or Scots would have made their way to Santiago several hundred years ago,so we jumped ship and headed to the city of Ferrol on waters edge and dipped our poles in the water and went the way less traveled.

It is fewer days than the busy Camino Frances and lovely and with fewer travelers thus more friendships were made. It was the meditative peace we had envisioned. The terrain was for mountain goats and the long 9-17 mile daily hikes were usually rewarded with a shower, a bottle of wine, and a bunk.

So we have arrived at our destination a wee bit early but we paid our dues with the 300+ miles and we got it done.

One Bite at a Time!

more than 400 kms later

more than 400 kms later

Call me Crazy

Monday, September 5th, 2016

The idea of the Camino crossed my consciousness about three years ago. I read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I know, that’s about the Appalachian Trail but it gave me the idea that an extended walk would be cool to try, just not where I have to use leaves and a shovel for my potty time.

The Camino was featured on the cover of a National Geographic I never read, but a lecture at our local library came up and on a rainy night I dragged Steve out to hear a gal tell of her and her father’s memorial trip on the Camino de Santiago de Compestela. I was hooked.

Everywhere we traveled we added walking to our plans but my old knees were protesting louder and louder. The orthopedist confirmed I didn’t have 500 miles in the current models and to say ‘when’ and we’d get a new pair. I did tough it out for a few more months but every other day found me sitting and icing. September 29, 2015 I got me two titanium knees.

My doctor, my therapist, and my family and friends all pushed and encouraged and the Personally Fit gym saw me 6 days a week until we could launch out and begin our Camino.

Talking to others as we walk, it’s a little seed of a thought that just won’t go away until it grows and consumes your thoughts. So you go.

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The Reality

Monday, September 5th, 2016

I sweat in places I never knew I had! Carrying 15 pounds on your back is uncomfortable and then you add a couple bottles of water. Washing yourself and clothes in the shower and hoping they dry by morning as they are strung all around the room is a test of faith. Chopping all your hair off and forgoing make up eliminates all vanity almost as much as wearing form-fitting wicking clothes and then binding yourself with all the straps giving you a Michellin Man appearance.

Dawn doesn’t come until 7:45 but you’ve been walking for almost two hours with 100 people who want to pass you. You climb a mountain only to turn and see 2 more ahead. You see other pilgrims stop for a break but you push on because you’re slower and there won’t be enough beds at the hostel if you lag. And at first you try to avoid the sheep poop but after doing a jig all over the countryside you just give up. That’s why you leave your boots at the door!

But having conversations with others about faith and their country of origin (Finland and South Africa the farthest so far) gets deep. Talking with Rolph, with terminal cancer, who is trying to get right with God and sharing your faith and cancer travels . Getting your first bedbug bites and considering them your badge of courage. Praying all the time, mostly for those back home and taking time to listen to answers, but also for that cramp or stiff back and waking new every morning.

It’s a trip of gratitude, testing, and like a praying friend said “with perseverance, even the snail made it to the ark!”

And it’s only been a week.

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Lourdes

Monday, August 29th, 2016

The enormity of Lourdes is still with me several days later. It was magnificent, humble, serene, and frightening all at the same time.

Thousands of people were there from many countries and multitudes were there hoping for a miracle in the healing waters. The quantity of volunteers pushing blue wheels chairs of the seriously ill up to the front mercy gate from the property’s hospital to receive the sign of the cross from bowls of holy water was staggering! So many sick people! So much hope.

You can google Lourdes if you don’t know the story or watch the movie “Song of Bernadette”. But 69 verified healings have happened since 1858 (that are known). Personally my faith is in Jesus Christ as Lord and healer, not in a miraculous spring of water, but what desperation would bring me here? Maybe not for myself, but for my child?

Crowds were lined up filling every kind of potable container possible. People were singing, praying, watching, taking lots of photographs, touching, and holding each other. The multiple sanctuaries were beautiful and worshipful, the acres of parkland so restorative.

I came as a pilgrim not a tourist. Lourdes made me cry.

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Confirmation 

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Woke up with some trepidation; have we really bitten off more than we’re capable of? And today it starts.

Had appointment with the rector at Canterbury Cathedral after the 8am communion but first we enjoyed a light breakfast at our B&B. Another guest came in wearing a San Diego t-shirt so I engaged him in conversation but he only spoke Spanish. And we conversed and we understood each other! Then we entered the Cathedral grounds on the way to the service at the same time as a gentleman who was American teaching in the area and after a few short sentences came to find out he went to Redlands!

The special Pilgrim prayer and stamp in our compestela and we needed to commence before the day got away from us. A mile into our walk, a young lad passed by with a San Diego ball cap. Later, a mom with kids in the car drew up alongside us and saw we were perplexed on directions. She had her son get out of the car and walk us about a mile to make sure we went the right way as the sign was obscured and we would have been lost again!

There were several other small incidences that told our hearts that God was watching us and He approved!

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Lincoln Cottage

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

During Lincoln’s presidency, the White House was one big Open House for anyone who wanted to have his ear. There was no peace and certainly no place to think about all that swirled around the chief executive during the Civil War years. So Lincoln did not live in the White House most of the time! Three miles away from the craziness of the city is the “Lincoln Cottage.” (the word cottage in those days IMG_0121referred to a second home, not the size of the dwelling ) Here, Mary and Abraham took solace from the turmoil of the city as well as mourned the death of their dear son, Willie. Every morning Abe got up and rode 3 miles on horseback into the city to conduct business and then back again to the Cottage. It is a beautiful building with lovely grounds that support a veterans home  to this day as well. There is tranquility here and intimacy. It is grand and special in a comforting way. The Lincoln Cottage is another unknown jewel in our Capital and worth the search.

The FIRST Lincoln Memorial

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

April 14th 2015, marked the 150th anniversary of the killing of Lincoln. I was blessed to be in D.C. and see the cherry blossoms, azaleas, and dogwoods and learn more about this great man.
In a neighborhood park on Capital Hill there is a statue of Lincoln with an unfettered slave at his feet. This statue was commissioned immediately after his death and solely funded with freed slave IMG_0108donations. The very first donor was Charlotte Scott, who used the first $5 she earned as a free woman to kick off the fund raising. This first heart-felt memorial was in place ten years after Lincoln’s death but the larger Lincoln Memorial took until 1922 to be in place. There are two copies of this early memorial; one in Boston(1875) and the other in Edinburg, Scotland(1893) There are so many wonderful things to learn on walks through our nation’s capital.

The Madonna

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

A friar from the Church of St. Stephen visited Florence and talked his buddy , Michaelangelo ,into sculpting him something for his church. And he did! The ONLY example of Michaelangelo’s work outside of Italy is in Brugge, Belgium. And this beautiful Madonna and Child (naked Jesus as a toddler) is a center character in the movie “Monuments Men.” The movie is awesome and very true to the book . The work of these dedicated fellas is accurately told and very moving. The Madonna was located in a salt mine in Austria after the Germans kidnapped her and even killed a monuments man in the taking. She has only left her perch in the cathedral twice; once Napoleon stole her (but was returned) and then Hitler wanted her. It was very moving for me to seek her out and gaze at her beauty while spending a rainy day in Brugge. She has quite a history.

A real 'movie star' !

A real ‘movie star’ !

114 Days Later

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Paddington says farewell!

Paddington says farewell!

When you start to look like your passport picture, it’s time to go home.  So I guess it’s time.

It has been a trip where God has opened our eyes to the wonder of His creation (and  also showed us where man is screwing it up). I love the churches and their testament to the faith of generations past. I love the flavors of the food and drink that are uniquely regional. I soak up the beauty of the countryside, and cringe at the overwhelming number of people who can be in one place at one time. The people who joined us on our sojourn added their flavor to the experience, and the events back home that we missed tugged at our hearts. We prayed more, hugged more, fought too much, ate more, spent more and marveled more.

So I guess,a trip like this is MORE of everything. There is s depth of appreciation that comes with a trip like this: for what I saw, what I left behind, and those that cared about us in both arenas.

I missed so much back home, but I would have missed a chunk of the world that I was blessed to have experienced. But it’s time…

Lady Di

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

DSC03751I thought I would honor Princess Diana while in London by seeking out her memorials, if there were any.

I know that on the Spencer family estate she is buried on an island in a small lake, but what about here in town? We were lead to Kensington Gardens where there is a memorial playground with a large pirate ship to climb on in the middle.

Then at another end of this large park there is the “fountain” in her honor. This looks like a big circular drainage ditch. It is even with the ground and percolates as it circumnavigates the area.

I guess I expected more but the next generation has moved on to Princess Kate.

I remember where I was when I heard the news that she had died; do you?

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